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Monday, September 30, 2013

Self-Serving Service

Recently the Chicago food chain Jewel-Osco made an interesting announcement. Several of their stores are saying goodbye to the self service checkout lanes they installed several years ago. The chain said it’s an effort to reconnect personally with customers. This decision comes despite the reality of higher costs of such a move.,0,7322858.story

There are also some self serving benefits to such a move. The company has observed a theft problem in self checkout. And quite often, a store employee must get involved in a problematic transaction. One consulting firm says other companies are making this decision, noting some inefficiencies and slowness when customers have a lot of items.

I liked the idea of reconnecting personally. Frankly, it’s one of my pet peeves, however, when that personal connection fails to occur. I find it refreshing to have a clerk at any store greet me and engage a bit at checkout.  Quite often that ISN’T the case.

Instead, two store employees are talking with each other. I’ve witnessed a clerk take a phone call and chat with another party while I’m checking out.  Or there is the silent type that might give the sole welcome of, “Next?”

Recently, I rented a car and the person handling the transaction gave me the keys and said, “There’s your car.”  No walk around to check for damage, no instructions about operating the car. I wonder what the company mission statement says, or their values proclaim about customer service. In one sense, it’s self-serving service.

I believe the problem exists for multiple reasons. Some employees might not be so called “people persons.” Others don’t receive good training. But honestly, I think a good number simply don’t really like the idea of serving people. It’s beneath them.

Recently, a grocery store near us changed managers. And I can see the difference already in the attitudes of employees and their willingness to help.  And a hardware megastore near me has their employees walk you to find the product you need. Now that’s service.

Christ followers should certainly be way ahead of the game when it comes to looking after customers. People should sense a difference in our attitudes of joy and a desire to help. How refreshing to find a soul who cares.

The marketplace is a great place for ministry. Jesus said he came to serve, and not to be served. If it was the mindset of the living God incarnate to live that way, I think we can manage it as well. Right?

That’s the way WE work. For Moody Radio, I’m Mark Elfstrand. 

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